follow Dictionary.com

Why turkey has the same name as Turkey

spontaneous generation

noun, Biology
Origin
1650-1660
1650-60
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for spontaneous generation
  • There is no difference between in spontaneous generation and the belief that life was energized by a spark of lightning.
  • For many centuries, people believed in spontaneous generation, or the ability of life to generate from non-living matter.
  • The need to convince the skeptical led him to studies of so-called spontaneous generation.
  • The goal of this letter-writing lesson is the spontaneous generation of letters and their use as a communication tool.
British Dictionary definitions for spontaneous generation

spontaneous generation

noun
1.
a theory, widely held in the 19th century and earlier but now discredited, stating that living organisms could arise directly and rapidly from nonliving material Also called abiogenesis
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
spontaneous generation in Science
spontaneous generation  
The supposed development of living organisms from nonliving matter, as maggots from rotting meat. The theory of spontaneous generation for larger organisms was easily shown to be false, but the theory was not fully discredited until the mid-19th century with the demonstration of the existence and reproduction of microorganisms, most notably by Louis Pasteur. Also called abiogenesis.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for spontaneous generation

abiogenesis

the hypothetical process by which living organisms develop from nonliving matter; also, the archaic theory that utilizes this process to explain the origin of life. Pieces of cheese and bread wrapped in rags and left in a dark corner, for example, were thus thought to produce mice, according to this theory, because after several weeks, there were mice in the rags. Many believed in spontaneous generation because it explained such occurrences as the appearance of maggots on decaying meat.

Learn more about abiogenesis with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for spontaneous generation

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for spontaneous

13
17
Scrabble Words With Friends